How Companies Can Move Past a Trough of Disillusionment in Social Business

Dion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer of The Dachis Group, says companies are at a stage of disillusionment with social business, but building social media literacy, integrating initiatives, and connecting social tools to how work gets done will help ensure success.

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Dion Hinchcliffe is chief strategy officer of The Dachis Group, and co-author with Peter Kim of Social Business by Design (Jossey-Bass, 2012).

In this interview, Hinchcliffe says that some companies are finding themselves in what he calls a “trough of disillusionment” in their social business projects, but he explains that this trough is a normal part of the technology adoption cycle. Furthermore, because the tools for social business were originally created for consumers, it presented business-specific issues surrounding security and administration that are just now being addressed.

Hinchcliffe provides advice on how a company can show progress towards becoming a more fully enabled social business. A key point, he says, is to measure how far apart the distance is between a social activity and the connection to specific work or business process activities. He also says that those firms that are most advanced in their social business initiatives are those that employ executive leadership, perform community management capabilities, build social business literacy for employees, and do not artificially isolate their various social business efforts.

Most important of all is to connect social tools to how work gets done. Hinchcliffe advises correlating social business efforts with one’s existing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which will help convince other executives about the value of a social business effort. It also is important to “turn the knob on social to the right.” In other words, don’t make social business efforts just a little window dressing, or you’ll only get incremental results: Hinchcliffe discusses companies that have “used social to knock one of their business processes out of the park” by taking this tack.

Finally, Hinchcliffe outlines what companies are facing when communicating to people around the world and in other cultures through social networks.

You’ve written that when it comes to social business, companies are currently in a stage you call a “trough of disillusionment.” Can you say more about this?

Yes. I definitely see that we’re in the trough. But the trough is an inevitable part of the technology adoption cycle. For example, the failure rates for ERP in the early days was very high, I think, upwards of 80%. I think they’re still over 50%.


Social Business

Social business research and more recent thought leadership explore the challenges and opportunities presented by social media.
More in this series

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Comments (2)
AS you know, I'm big on vocabulary, and I think there's some that gets in the way here. In this particular context, you seem to be referring to social business/enterprise primarily in terms of the communications tools. And i think we can make a clear case for the value and path to a social communication enterprise. As you have often stated, however, that's but one dimension of a larger picture. My favorite way to describe this particular challenge - people will adopt a tool when its easier to use than not to.
Hi Dion-

Love the case study references Dion.  Thanks.

Isn't there also parallel low-hanging business opportunity inside the enterprise related to collaboration of the 'employee social network'?  

Two examples come to mind:
1) @Barry_Gill recently cited his study of knowledge worker email where 22% of our time each year is spent on "searching, archiving and managing" our email... reclaiming some of this time

2) Teams focused on building strategic capabilities à la Kotter's agile (employee) network- improved strategic project work with the benefits of version control, transparency, etc. from the collaborative social platform (e.g., SharePoint, Jive...)


Tom Reeder